Issue Sixteen - April 2010

Beauty Marauds

By Monica Woelfel

They have no mercy
as they step in their high-heeled party shoes 
into the meadow.
Dark-furred lips gather with expert care
all the low-growing greens,
heads nod; teeth crop.

There are no rules
to obey that their trembling hides
don’t know. Nostrils open for the scent
of dog, these come to relish how every leaf
has a shape, size, texture 
specific to its heart of flavor: the waxy madrone, 
tart tiny bud of ocean spray,
long palate-scratching tassels of fescue,
tang of new purples, etiolated yellows,
ceanothus, rose, strawberry
tender as a tongue.

What each plant provides is enough 
but no more,
so lips and teeth take every twig, 
sepal, each fresh shoot, 
leave behind only the frail impression of a shrub.
With mincing steps the insouciant diners move 
steadily downhill toward wilder snacks—
salmonberry and salal, in the creek’s draw, 
where their cool-hooved passings become mere stippled alder shadows again 
and the pure beasts
revert to dream, camouflaged imaginings,
unlikely truths, still hungry.

Copyright Monica Woelfel 2010